【 Chapter 13 – Spanish Civil War – Battle of Brunete (5) 】
July 18, 1937
Central Spain, throughout Brunete West of Madrid
Colonel Model went around each unit and picked up the operational plan written by the commanders, and three days later, the counterattack began.
“Advance, Advance, Advance!”
The countless crack of single-shot bolt action rifles and the sound of the machine gun firing fire constantly hit the ear.
“Get out of there!”
A thin, elongated plane resembling a pencil in the sky crashed as it burned, and as soon as the freaked-out crew hurried out, it fell to the ground and exploded.
That’s probably our Do 17 bomber. Hopefully, it’s not Lieutenant Colonel Richthofen…
He will not die in this place as he is a competent pilot and the main character of the Luftwaffe in World War II, but how can he not be worried because he drives a plane on the front line unnecessarily on the subject of a senior commander?
More than a hundred planes were dancing in the sky as we launched a fierce attack on the ground.
A fierce battle continues here and there, in which a plane caught in smoke and flames crashes.
I heard that 80 Air Force planes were deployed in operation, but dozens of Republican Air Force planes seemed to be there.
It is realized that both the Republicans and the Nationalists risked their lives here.
As soon as Sergeant Koher was about to fall over the new recruit, he took a breather at the chilling sight of a fighter strafing the spot where the new recruit was-
Bf109, which followed the rear of the enemy fighter, fired its weapons.
The enemy aircraft on fire could not raise its altitude and collided with the ground, breaking into pieces.
“Ah, Company Commander! How many lives do you really need?”
“Ha, try to avoid it! If you’re lucky, you’ll live!”
This was the first time the Condor Legion had played a major role in an offensive. The scorching heat and the tension on the battlefield seem to burn the neck and spirit.
Get your act together, if you don’t, you’ll die.
At least I was in a position to observe and order the members who were directly hit by the enemy position, saying that the Company Commander was still a Commander.
It wasn’t once or twice that I heard the creepy sound of bullets bouncing right next to me or at the cover…
In front of our eyes, it was common for Panzer Itanks to break through the enemy’s defenses and get hit by artillery fire or artillery from ambushed enemy tanks.
“Ah, aaah! Aaaaagh!”
The sight of a tank crewman trying to open a hatch from a burning tank hit by a high-explosive shell, writhing in pain while holding on to his hand that had been cooked as it was, then drooping down, emitting smoke with the sizzling smell of burning meat was gruesome.
Did you say that even though the tank looks safe, it is actually a moving coffin? Damn, I never wanted to be like that.
“Clement, stop the 3rd platoon! It’s so protruding!”
While Clement sent a messenger, I hurriedly opened the operational map and checked.
Since the arrival of Colonel Model, the operational plan has been drawn up with surprising precision.
In the meantime, the Condor Legion has always given instructions based on the German mission-type tactics of specifying a goal and leaving the process of achieving it at its discretion, but Colonel Model was the exact opposite type.
He made a completely detailed plan and ordered an offensive that went as he ordered by him.
At the same time, it was almost paranoid to prepare and send an alternative plan for each expected variable.
What surprised me was that our company’s attack route reflected quite a bit of what I had written and submitted.
If it’s not just me, did Colonel Model collect all the opinions of the former unit leaders in three days and make such a detailed operation plan?
There was a series of sacrifices, but the overall situation seemed to be going well as planned for the offensive. The loss of the enemy was serious even on the front line, and the defense was lax due to holes in the front.
A series of gunfire from the front and back made us deaf, but fortunately, it was not so common for the Gods of the battlefield to fall directly on us because they were playing among themselves.
“If I had 88, I would’ve stayed behind and been relaxed…”
When I heard Clement grumble, I burst out laughing. If it’s a Colonel Model, I think it was arranged for some reason.
Just before the start of the offensive, he formed a separate unit called the ‘Multipurpose Support Artillery’, and dispatched all 88 anti-aircraft guns and anti-aircraft artillery units, which the company had deployed, and instead deployed more infantry.
His knack for tearing up divisions and sending them to the front if necessary, called ‘a talent for creating and deploying reserve units on the frontline’, was already showing its side.
It was true that the 88-gun, which was bulky and slow to tow, was certainly difficult for infantry to take on the offensive, and air defense artillery is not originally deployed in infantry companies.
The strange hybrid system was a unique feature of the Condor Legion, which was occasionally mobilized in defense of the base and aimed at testing new equipment.
Although it was said to be for an efficient and quick advance, complaints came out because it was still a matter of messing with the organization of each unit, and Lieutenant General Thoma, who leaves most of the work to the Chief of Staff, was a bit reluctant.
However, Colonel Model got rid of his ‘good man who used to make jokes’ mode, persuaded Lieutenant General Thoma with his unique sergeant-like fierce speech, and made the commanders shut up.
Thanks to this, I’m taking the lead by following and commanding the members who are risking their lives to advance from the front line.
It’s an extremely rational and efficient unit management, but there is still an unpleasant feeling.
There was a reason why so many officers hated this man.
….I’m gonna blame you for everything, Colonel Model.
July 20, 1937
Republican HQ, Madrid, Capital of Spain
“This is nonsense! How, how could everything fail like this!”
General Miaha hit the desk with the force of foaming at the mouth, but the colonels all closed their mouths and looked around.
“40% loss of the most intact division? Some divisions have over 60% casualties! What kind of target did you attack! Has there ever been a loss like this?”
General Miaha protested enthusiastically, but it was him who refused and ordered the attack to be carried out even though Colonel Casado, who was dispatched on behalf of Colonel Jurado, who was suffering from heatstroke, asked to withdraw the attack because it was impossible to attack Carabanchel after grasping the situation.
It was the colonels here who accused Colonel Casado of being a defeatist and flattered and encouraged him that this opportunity might never happen again.
And they were half right.
The opportunity for the Republicans to lead a massive offensive like this will probably never come again. Such capabilities were completely destroyed in this battle.
After pushing to push ahead with the offensive even when more than 20% of all troops were suffering from heatstroke and dehydration symptoms or exhaustion, the Republicans were completely collapsed and attacked by the Nationalists.
The Nationalist forces even brought troops from the Basque front and were attacking from three directions simultaneously, and the Republican troops, who could not afford to hold on already, were protesting and deserting one after another.
Many of the international brigades, the strongest forces of the Republican faction that they had put in, left the front at will, saying that they would return to their homeland, as they were fed up with the meaningless show-off offensive.
Even in the Battle of Jarama, ardent democrats and communists, who did not spare their lives crying out for freedom and justice even in the fiercest battleground, called ‘Suicide Hill’, turned their backs, trembling at the incompetence of the Republican leadership.
“What is this! What is this!”
General Miaha threw Lester’s telegram in the face of Colonel Modesto, who had been called up from the front line.
Enrique Líster, Commander of the 11th Division, made several requests to his immediate superior, Colonel Modesto, to halt the offensive or retreat, but when the request was not accepted, he ignored the chain of command and sent a telegram directly to the headquarters.
“You want me to make sure that the order to defend Brunete is correct even though there are 40% loss of our tanks and men? Something like this! What the hell is the information about the 11th Division that I knew!”
Colonel Modesto twisted his face. Líster, that bloody bastard ended up doing the job.
“Because you asked for it, I took all the air force out of Carabanchel, which I couldn’t do, and sent it to you! I was in my 60s. I was in my 60s! But what have you done? Even cheating losses?”
It wasn’t. It wasn’t perfect.
The Nationalists’ faction deployed a huge number of air forces, more than the 60s that the Republicans gathered and deployed, and among them were new German-made fighters, which were clearly superior to Soviet-made fighters.
Whether it was in Carabanchel or Brunete, the Air Force would not have been able to pull itself together.
Everything in this battle was unexpected. The Republicans had never anticipated a situation in which the air forces they considered superior to the Nationalists would be useless.
But what is the point of making such an excuse now?
Should he have said that here when Líster first asked for a detour? If he had said it anyway, he would have been ignored the same way, but if he did, at least it wouldn’t have been his responsibility.
When Líster missed the offensive due to the forest fire and asked for the withdrawal of the attack again, if it had been accepted at that time, only Brunete would have had the power to defend even if Carabanchel’s army had been destroyed.
Of course, he ignored Líster’s withdrawal request and pushed ahead with the attack after seeing Colonel Casado, who equally requested the withdrawal of the attack in Carabanchel, being accused of being a defeatist and forced to attack.
‘Anyway, the promotion of the General is out of the question.’
No matter what the head of state, intoxicated with Brunette’s rapid fall said, if he had pretended to go against it, he could not escape the responsibility of this failure.
“In the heat, the attack was carried out too much, and the enemy unexpectedly mobilized anti-aircraft guns as a means of long-range anti-tank, and the Germans came out actively…”
“Ah, how noisy!”
Only now, when the battle was nearing its end, did the Republican faction know that the ‘anti-tank artillery’ that astonished them was the 8.8cm Flak, or 88 anti-aircraft gun, originally used by the Germans.
It was also confirmed that Walter Model, the new Chief of Staff of the Condor Legion, was involved in a significant part of the Nationalist’s operation. Now that he has come to know, it didn’t mean anything.
“Are those filthy fascists cubs going to be very German slaves? Why make the Germans intervene in strategy! No, why do volunteers have a Chief of Staff in the first place!”
Italy and Germany. The army they had already dispatched to the Nationalists had far exceeded the scale of the ‘volunteer soldiers’, but no one dared to open their mouths and point out the grim reality.
It was also shortly after the Republican leadership tore down their forces in operation to look good to the Soviet Union.
“And what, it was proposed by a Lieutenant? Ha! Are you saying that our Republican armoured troops were smashed by something that came to mind while passing by?”
The colonels all avoided eye contact when the furious General Miaha punched the desk.
“No way! That’s just an excuse! An excuse to hide your incompetence!”
He showed the height of his incompetence as a commander-in-chief who honed his soldiers with this reckless offensive in extreme heat.
However, most of the Republicans, who were political officers, were busy hiding their faults, but no one pointed out the reality.
He looked at the colonels with bloodshot eyes and said, as if chewing.
“Damn it, the reality is that Líster’s 11th Division, which is 40 percent divided, is the most normal, so tell him to protect Brunete. Tell the other troops who were on the offensive to select the remaining troops and go to Brunete!”
All of these people here knew that even if they scratched the remaining troops, let alone Líster’s 11th Division, and drove them to Brunete, they were not as strong as the first group of the counterattack.
“We must protect Brunete! At all costs!”
But nobody talked about that reality. If only Brunete can be protected, the responsibility can be covered by the minimal achievements.
Everyone in the leadership just wanted to get out of this gloomy conference hall as soon as possible.
【 Spanish Civil War – Battle of Brunete (5) 】- End
Thank you for reading!